Have you ever gone to a gun show in Florida with a friend and purchased a gun? Did you know doing that can land you in jail if it's considered a "straw purchase?"
Let's say you and friend decide to head to the local gun show. While at the gun show you decide to purchase three handguns and your friend decides he’d like to purchase two firearms. Nothing unusual to you, as you like to collect firearms and you have routinely gone target/sports shooting with your friend.
When it comes time for your purchase, your friend realizes that he left his ID home and asks if you could buy the two guns on his behalf. You agree, and fill out the necessary forms and purchase the two firearms thinking if he does not pay you the money, you would keep them for yourself.
You both leave the gun show. He comes by a week later and obtains the firearms from you and pays you the money. In your mind, you've done nothing wrong and move on with your life.
However, a month later two gentlemen come to your home, ATF agents, and ask if they could come in and speak with you regarding the purchase of firearms. They begin by asking you if you purchased any guns recently.
Your natural instinct is to respond to the question; as you believe you have legally purchased the firearms and filled out all the necessary documents.
Then they begin to ask questions as to the location of the firearms. You want to be cooperative but start to think something is wrong. You inform them that three of the firearms are with you but the other two are at a friend’s house. They request to meet with you the next day, to give you an opportunity to produce the other firearm.
Unfortunately for you, you come to find out that your friend decided to sell the firearms to someone he met at the local bar.
Again, feeling there was nothing wrong with the purchase, you explain to the agents everything that happened. The agents leave and tell you they would like for you to come in for a recorded interview, and you agree.
What you have also discovered, is that your friend has done this a number of times to others in the past two years and some of the firearms he purchased are now in a foreign country.
You are later charged with multiple federal crimes.
- Making a false statement that was material to the lawfulness of a firearm sale; and
- Making a false statement with respect to information required to be kept in the records of a licensed firearms dealer.
Your argument is that there was no deception, as your intent at the time you completed the forms was to keep the firearms and that your friend’s payment may or may not have occurred; and the sale to him at a later date was a lawful private sale.
In some circuits this may be a great argument, however; in Florida, in the eleventh circuit, the prosecutor is likely to take the view that the identity of the true purchaser, lawful or unlawful, is material to the lawfulness of the purchased firearm.
This is why you may need a lawyer. If any of the above has ever happened to you, or if you are concerned it may happen to you, call our office and ask to speak to Charlie Levy and take advantage of a FREE consultation. Meeting with an attorney before speaking to the government can significantly change the outcome of the case in your favor.
This article was written by Charlie Levy, Esq., a criminal defense attorney for almost 20 years. He has defended many people charged with felony gun purchase/possession as well as those accused of making false statements in connection with the purchase of a firearm.